"Bone" Collector

For Marcus "Bones" Barnett catching footballs is like collecting bones. Each one is different and can be found at any and all spots on the field. Bearcat Insider spoke with "Bones" about the work this spring and summer and his hopes for this season.

Marcus Barnett enters his redshirt sophomore season with 62 career catches. With three seasons of eligibility remaining Barnett knows before his time is over in the Queen City he could be sitting as the Bearcats top receiver surpassing LaDaris Vann's mark of 204 career receptions.

"I really don't think too much about that right now," Barnett said following practice. "I've learned anything can happen on the next play and you just work hard and do the best you can today. We have a lot of guys who are good and also want to play so you've got to stay on top of your game or get passed by."

Barnett learned last season the hard truths about the game of college football as he suffered an injury during the Bearcats Bowl victory over Southern Mississippi that caused some concerns on how his future would be.

While the medical diagnosis was positive, no one really knows how a player returns until they take the field. The truth came during the spring as Barnett practiced but wasn't the same player he was use to being. Since the end of Bearcat Bowl he's worked getting ready for what he hopes is another big year for the Bearcats and himself.

"I'm not quite a 100% right now, but I'm working hard and getting there. I'm about 80% right now, but it did teach me you never know when it's going to be your last play and you better enjoy this while you can."

Early during camp Barnett is showing signs he's ready to have another big season catching the ball and likes the challenge he's receiving from the Bearcats defensive backs in the process.

"Missing all the practice time I did made me work even harder during the off season. I spent a lot of time with the training staff to get ready and be on the field. We have a great group of trainers and a great strength staff that helped me do a lot of work just to get my leg stronger and to be ready for camp. I knew as long as I was on the field working I'd be tested because we have a great group of defensive backs that will make you earn everything you get in practice."

One area Barnett has shown early improvement in is catching the football. From watching practice it looks like the Maryland native has strengthened his hands.

"We have this device that helps you strengthen you hands and I've used it a lot. And we do a lot of work with the jugs machine on catching the ball. Coach Molnar will not accept you not going hard in any of his drills and he's turning all of us into better receivers."

One area Marcus knows people are talking about is who will be at quarterback. Who does he want throwing him the ball?

"We all hope Ben can be playing but we also know you have to play with who you have and all of our quarterbacks are working hard. The thing that made Ben so good was his ability to see down the field and keep the play going until he found one of us open. Each quarterback has improved their play and their keeping their head up looking for us longer just like Ben did."

As for the possibilities of catching more than 62 balls this season, Marcus knows a lot has to happen.

"Hopefully things will go as everyone has planned. But you can't look too far ahead at numbers. We all have goals we want to achieve and this year teams will be looking for Goody and me harder. But this is why Coach Kelly has worked hard in getting all the great receiving talent here since he became coach. We have a lot of guys who can get on the field and catch as many balls as Goody and I did last year."

For the "Bone Collector" this season will be to show he's got the ability to take his game to another level. Defensive backs now know his name and his abilities and will look to keep him from collecting too many bones this season.

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